Is batik still the preferred attire at Berjaya Corp?

AS men, women and children showcase their colourful traditional costumes in conjunction with the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festivity, one wonders if Berjaya Corp Bhd is still keeping its batik attire policy – the brainchild of its former group CEO Jalil Abdul Rasheed – intact.

Recall that on April 9 last year, BCorp announced that the entire group of companies is changing its official attire to batik with donning the batik-wear on a daily basis among its male and female staff being highly encouraged.

In a way, BCorp has done one better with such ruling given that the public sector only “encourages Federal civil servants to wear Malaysian batik clothes to work every Thursday, including to attend official events within or outside the country such as international conferences or meetings with foreign visitors” (as per a service circular dated Dec 1 last year).

“This involves about 20,000 staff directly and indirectly. We are also encouraging our vendors and suppliers to adopt this policy as well,” tweeted Jalil.

“All of Berjaya’s hospitality and front facing staff will change uniforms to batik gradually. It’s our way of promoting Malaysian culture and to showcase batik.”

Although such policy was ridiculed by many – with western-styled corporate attire being preferred – Jalil had good intention with his batik wear policy, especially from a corporate social responsibility (CSR) perspective.

“Besides being personally biased, our warm climate was a consideration. We also wanted to help small time businesses in the batik industry keep their craft alive,” he justified.

“I hope more companies will join us in promoting this. These are small changes we can make from a corporate perspective. We do what we can.”

While netizens who follow Jalil’s tweet generally praised him for his visionary leadership – some even went to the extent of reminding him to promote Malaysian batik as opposed to the Indonesian fabric – nobody knows for sure the extent of buy-in Jalil’s brainchild garnered from BCorp patriarch Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun.

Jalil Abdul Rasheed (right) with Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun in batik (pic courtesy of The Edge Options)

Or better still, how did he even convince the BCorp founder and non-executive chairman to grant him a green light with his seemingly ‘radical’ idea?

Amazingly, of all his contributions to BCorp during his one-year stint in which he opted to step down to pursue “a personal venture”, this batik policy seems to be one of the better-remembered moments of Jalil’s legacy in the group.

In his 10-month report as BCorp’s group CEO in January, Jalil said the ongoing pandemic has made the group realise that while a diversified portfolio helps mitigate risk, having a focused one is also important.

“[In the] past one year, we have been busy doing internal housekeeping and focusing more on divestment to make the group leaner and more focused. I envisaged my first year to re-organise, restructure, and get it focused. Year two and three will be growth and acquisition,” he said.

“In future threads under #BcorpUpClose, I will zoom in on each business and give an introduction of what it does and what we are thinking about competition and operations. This thread was to introduce what we have first.”

Well, this maiden thread was also Jalil’s last but one wonders how many of BCorp’s 20,000 staff still maintain a wardrobe of colourful Malaysian batik. – May 3, 2022

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